Welcome to the Blood, Sweat and CPMs Podcast presented by Freestar. Our host Kurt Donnell, President & CEO of Freestar is here to add levity and provide helpful pointers for anyone navigating the world of Ad Tech. In each episode, he will interview thought leaders across the industry to get their perspectives on what matters most to them and their take on hot industry topics. Visit our website, freestar.com for more information. Enjoy!

Episode 42

Natrian Maxwell (The Trade Desk)

In this episode, our host Kurt Donnell chats with Natrian Maxwell, GM of the Emerging Channels at The Trade Desk, about his thoughts on what will be coming to fruition in the next 3-5 years, the value of social, and finding your passion later in life.


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Note: Due to voice recognition software, sound-alike, and misspelled words may be contained in the documentation.

[00:00:04.570] – Natrian Maxwell

I think the folks and the platforms who’ve been doing it right for such a long period of time, this is an exciting future for them because now you can finally run at full speed and actually do and provide the value that you’ve been doing for such a long period of time. But now you have less noise in the macro that will distill that in packed down.

[00:00:28.970] – Kurt Donnell

Welcome back to blood, Sweat and CPMs. I’m your host, Kurt Donnell. In today’s show, we’ll be speaking with Natrian Maxwell, GM of Emerging channels at the trade desk. Natrian focuses on Immersive inventory channels including gaming, mobile app, audio, digital, out of home, retail, media and social. He started his career 16 years ago working with mobile publishers and large advertisers at Right Media Exchange, one of the very first programmatic exchanges. Prior to the Trade Desk, natrian spent four years at Amazon building their programmatic, offering Amazon publisher services and expanding into international regions such as APAC, LATAM and EMEA. When Natrin’s not slaying the ad tech dragon, you can find him reading, collecting sneakers and playing video games. I’m so excited for you to hear our show today. So let’s get right into it.

[00:01:18.150] – Kurt Donnell

Hey Natrin, thanks so much for joining us today, man. Really appreciate it.

[00:01:21.230] – Natrian Maxwell

Yeah, thanks for having me. I always enjoy my time chatting with you.

[00:01:25.310] – Kurt Donnell

You’re a very nice friend of the Freestar family. We’ve appreciated the support over time. We’ve actually had you speak with the company before and it’s fun to have you join the pod today. So maybe for the folks that may not have met you yet, why don’t you give a little bit of a background on how you found yourself into the ad tech world? A little bit of a journey, as we all have.

[00:01:44.080] – Natrian Maxwell

Absolutely. So what’s odd about me, I would say, is that I’ve essentially been a career ad techer, so those people are starting to come to the forefront now. And I’ve spent most of my professional career in ad tech. Like most people, this wasn’t even a thing when I was going to college and it wasn’t really like something someone aspired to be. But where I came into the ad tech ecosystem was I was working at Yahoo. And we used to have a team which was predominantly smoke jumpers is what they referred to them as, which is like when either new acquisitions take place or a business is not performing the way that it should be, they send somebody in who has an operations background. So sort of like the firefighters who jump into the smoke to put out a fire.

[00:02:35.080] – Kurt Donnell


[00:02:35.920] – Natrian Maxwell

And you’re supposed to essentially kind of come to it with a consulting mindset and understand what needs to happen or what should we do here and write up like a POV on what needs to take place. And so one of those projects that I got handed to was Right Media Exchange, and it was just right after the acquisition, they weren’t sure what they were doing with it. It was sitting sort of idle. And so they were like, hey, we do most of the partnerships with telcos and mobile providers, and so we want you to go over there and understand what is it, what is programmatic and ad tech? We have no idea. And so I went over there, and immediately I was just, like, really intrigued. I was like, wow, it’s like a stock market. It’s like a stock exchange, but it’s advertising. This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. And I remember telling them things, like, every second we see a million ad requests, and they were like, oh my God, I can’t even imagine all that is happening. Right? And it was so funny. So then that project ended, and then I just remember having that moment where I was like, I don’t want to go do anything else.

[00:03:41.980] – Natrian Maxwell

I don’t want to go to another project. I just want to stay here.

[00:03:44.900] – Kurt Donnell

That’s awesome.

[00:03:45.900] – Natrian Maxwell

And so they were like, okay, well, let’s find you a job. And so I found a job at Right Media Exchange, and now it’s been 16 years later, and I still haven’t left ad tech, and every day I’m still learning so many different things. So it’s truly been enjoyable.

[00:04:01.880] – Kurt Donnell

It is amazing the scale at which we operate. Like, if you think about a billion of anything, a ridiculous amount, but we just toss it around all the time of like, oh, billion ad requests yesterday doesn’t make sense. What’s going on? Cruise has been interesting because you’ve now straddled the fence, obviously the trade desk now, but maybe just share quickly the rest of your journey. After the Right Media days, I’ve seen a couple of SSPS and now a DSP, but just walk people through just so they’ve got the background quickly.

[00:04:28.310] – Natrian Maxwell

Yeah, absolutely. So the way my mind works, I’m always curious. And I think if you’re a curious person and you’re an ad tech, you always try to understand what else is happening, and you try to get closer to the dollar and you try to get closer to the sun to understand how it ultimately flows from the beginning to the end. And so through that, I’ve always had career opportunities arise when I’ve become extremely more curious on how to get closer to the origin or the destination. And so through my career, I’ve gone back and forth between the supply side, the demand side, and I’ve also worked with several contextual data partnerships. I’ve worked with a variety of different types of identity brand safety and partnerships there. Through my journey, I’ve been at Turn, which was at one point the largest DSP in the world, which was then a moby, and I think they recently acquired by another company. I’ve worked at Openx in the past, working directly with hold codes and agencies. That was a really brutal time of character development in my life not OpenX, but more just working on the agency side. The way that it works, the speed at which it operates at just the way that they think about purchasing media and planning was just really quick paced and it happens fast.

[00:05:51.810] – Natrian Maxwell

I spent about four years with Amazon helping them build Amazon Publisher services, rolling out their header bidding solution, starting to explore data like contextual data, lakes, identity, things like that. And then most recently I’m now at Trade Desk where I get to focus on a lot of the emerging channels, a lot of the future growth engines that are coming in the ad tech ecosystem.

[00:06:15.440] – Kurt Donnell

Interestingly at both Amazon, I guess, the Trade Desk now, you sort of have done these kind of startups inside of a big company where really you built out the publisher demand side at Amazon a little bit and now inside of the Trade Desk working on emerging channels but just building out the publisher team. I think when you started it was what, three of you guys working on the more publisher direct side of things?

[00:06:35.570] – Natrian Maxwell

Yeah, we were really cozy together. So there’s a few of us and whenever there’s a few of you who are starting an initiative, there’s always that opportunity to be really scrappy. Right. And I think what’s really rare today, at least at the companies that I’ve seen, is a lot of times when you join a company, they’re pretty mature. The strategy is already in concrete and a lot of folks essentially just have an operating playbook. When you join a company, maybe you’re trying to squeeze a few basis points out of it or sign a couple of partnerships and they need your help there. But what’s been really cool about both at Amazon and also now at the Trade Desk is that when you start at an established company but you create a brand new channel or brand new endeavor, you get the backing of that mature market and you get the built in demand base that you have there. You get the built in support structures and systems at place, but you also have the autonomy and the freedom to completely run into an open field and understand how you’re going to define that, how you’re going to develop it, what is that structure ultimately going to look like?

[00:07:48.040] – Natrian Maxwell

And it’s really just green pastures ahead of you as you try to create a brand new offering within an established company. I truly think that’s the best opportunity that a person can have, especially in today’s world. It’s like being an entrepreneur, but you have a safety net to some degree. Right.

[00:08:07.180] – Kurt Donnell

Not bad names to trade off of either.

[00:08:11.290] – Natrian Maxwell

Yeah, it could be a lot worse, trust me. I’ve been in some funny places trying to sell things. I think when I was 16 I was doing door to door sales with hair clippers.

[00:08:20.770] – Kurt Donnell

Really? Yeah.

[00:08:21.840] – Natrian Maxwell

We’ve gone a long way since then, so trust me, it’s a lot easier when I tell you that people answer.

[00:08:27.240] – Kurt Donnell

The phone when you say it’s the Trade Desk calling.

[00:08:29.520] – Natrian Maxwell

Yeah, it’s awesome.

[00:08:31.890] – Kurt Donnell

Specifically now, as the team has grown, you work with some wonderful people, need and will a couple of my very favorites that have been there for a little while. And obviously the team has grown. I don’t know if pivoted is the right word, but you really are kind of owning the emerging channels piece of that business business, maybe walk us through those. Most of our guests, we tend to focus kind of desktop, mobile web, a little bit of in App, a little CTV, but you actually are working outside of, I think, all of those channels really now.

[00:08:56.670] – Natrian Maxwell

Yeah, absolutely. So I think that one of the strongest value propositions of Trade Desk is that it’s an Omnichannel DSP, right? And so ultimately we have to be able to help our brands and our agencies find the best impressions, wherever those may be, whether it may be global, that’s part of it. Whether it be in Display or mobile web or mobile app, that’s part of it. But there’s an also very large ecosystem that sits outside of those core channels and I often refer to that as our emerging channels. Now, I jokingly always say this, but once upon a time, CTV was an emerging channel, right? Yeah. Hard to believe that now. But for me, I focus on a lot of what’s going to be coming to fruition in the next three to five years from now. And so a lot of the areas that we’re looking at are surrounded by digital out of home is like a big one for us. Retail media networks is another big one for us, gaming is a huge one for us, audio and podcasting is also another one for us. And social. Now, the one outlier there that I mentioned is social.

[00:10:05.570] – Natrian Maxwell

But the reason I continue to bring up social is just because I would say that all the changes that are happening at the macro level around social have historically made it pretty challenging to be able to navigate within those walled gardens and be able to really bring them into the omnichannel focus. And so I think now with things that are happening around like Apple’s Att Framework, with the macroeconomic situation that’s taking place now, we’re starting to see a lot more of these social companies be open to working with their brands outside of their closed walls and starting to understand how can they play within the open ecosystem of programmatic today. And I think that’s creating some new opportunities for us to engage with those.

[00:10:52.450] – Kurt Donnell

Types of partners on the digital out of home side. I’ve always just been curious about that. It feels like there’s a lot of corollaries from the programmatic pipes that could be connected there and they aren’t quite yet. Have you seen that market start to grow for you guys?

[00:11:05.370] – Natrian Maxwell

Absolutely. So last year digital out of home was the fastest growing channel that we had at the trade desk and I would say globally. Also we’re seeing significant uptick in terms of adoption from variety of brands and agencies. We have some great partnerships that we have now that are extremely innovative and leaned into programmatic today. So, like, Place Exchange is a phenomenal one. X Media math guy there named Ari who’s phenomenal. We also have Vistar Media who is like, sure, yeah, so Vistar Media is a big one for us. Hivestack is another massive one for us. These are people who have been deeply rooted in programmatic for years, and now they’re starting to bring things into the digital out of home ecosystem that start to look and feel of that of a programmatic native company. I would continue to say though, what else is also happening kind of at the same time or in parallel is that we’re starting to see a lot of media owners. So originally what happened, let’s rewind maybe like four years ago, majority of screens and things were large billboards that were static in nature. And then we started to see a lot of those start to convert into digital signage.

[00:12:18.350] – Natrian Maxwell

But in parallel, what we’re also starting to see is place based advertising, which is screens that start to look and feel native to the environment in which people walk through and navigate. You might see these like when you’re in New York and you’re like walking past the street corner and you see a screen on the street corner or taxi toppers, or you might see them at grocery stores now. And so you’re starting to find a lot more screens that are digital first pop up in a lot of the locations that most people have a lot of foot traffic through. And that’s really allowed us to accelerate in terms of just like first scale and coverage. But also a lot of those programmatic signals that our programmatic brands and agencies look for across some of the other channels such as mobile and CTV, et cetera.

[00:13:06.250] – Kurt Donnell

Something we’ve thought about a little bit. As you see even the second screens popping up on ATMs or gas pumps or even the things that look like little Android devices all over the place. I think we’re going to see that ecosystem converge a little bit with kind of where we’ve played historically in the desktop, mobile, web, video, that side of things. Feels like that’s all going to converge here through the same pipes soon, which is awesome, I think. So other piece of this you’ve mentioned, obviously audio and podcasts. My understanding is that’s been heavily direct sold. Are you seeing that shift to be more programmatic here over time or is that staying more direct sold?

[00:13:41.310] – Natrian Maxwell

No, I think it’s definitely moving into the programmatic ecosystem as well. So I would say there are some companies that have really leaned into that. So like, Series XM is like a massive one with Adswiz and Pandora. They also have SoundCloud as well that they power. But I would say now, because of the way that people are digesting and consuming, a lot of that audio content fits really naturally inside of a programmatic ecosystem, right? So historically it was something that folks maybe spent a small amount of their time on or a small amount of time discovering new shows and entertaining themselves. But I would say that probably in 2020 is when we were all forced to stay home. What happened is we saw an acceleration of the way that a lot of consumers wanted to spend their time and find new ways of entertaining themselves. And so at that time, what happened is a lot of people started transitioning from watching TV or maybe they extinguished all of their Netflix shows that they’ve been meaning to watch. And then they started to dabble into some of the podcasts and then they started finding great shows like Serial.

[00:14:52.000] – Natrian Maxwell

I think that’s usually like the first one people lean into, right? And then now they’re playing it on their smart devices at home. And they’re like, Me, I’m like, Honey, honey, come into the kitchen, listen to this show called Cereal, right? And now we’re sitting around listening to our smart device. Well, fast forward. Now 2023 people are back to work. We’re all mobile again. But guess what? I’ve changed the way now that I interact with audio moving forward, I still listen to my streaming. I still listen to my podcast. I bring that with me. And so now as I’m out and about, I’m on my mobile device and I’m consuming content. This is where signals become really rich in that environment. And so for folks who’ve said like, no, I’m just going to stay direct only, I think what they’ve started to realize is, wow, I actually have a lot more supply now than I used to. I really need help with demand now that I have so much leftover supply. And then two, what I’m starting to realize is that a lot of these impressions that I have in the audio channel, the podcast channel, are really rich for us.

[00:15:55.090] – Natrian Maxwell

The CPMs are great in this environment, and a lot of the brands that are interested in combining the Omnichannel experience from audio into some of the other channels they’re working with has increased significantly. And so now when you have conversations with like PNG or Unilever and they’re able to use that same data driven approach in audio, I think that’s really compelling for a lot of those brands and agencies. And they’ve ultimately started to work with a lot of the audio publishers to be able to extend their campaigns into the audio and podcasting side of the business as well.

[00:16:28.840] – Kurt Donnell

That’s interesting. Are you guys doing a lot of that Omni Channel attribution or at least matching it up on their behalf? Are they typically coming with some of that on their side?

[00:16:38.320] – Natrian Maxwell

Yeah, so it’s actually both. Right? So a lot of them today are using their first party audience segments across our entire platform. So whether it’s CTV or Display or audio or even gaming, they lead with that first. Right. And then they leave it up to us to be able to go out there and look at the 13 million bid requests that we see every second and understand what are the best 800 or 900 impressions that we can find for them. In many instances, that’s going to be in audio or podcasting. In many instances it’ll be in CTV. But the good news is today is that with our device Graph that we have here at Trade Desk, we’re able to identify who those users are, we’re able to do targeting and we’re able to do attribution and measurement and be able to take all those insights and funnel it back into their entire marketing campaign, which is really powerful for those brands.

[00:17:27.610] – Kurt Donnell

I mean, I think you guys have done a great job and both your, I guess, market share and market cap and everything reflect how good of a job you guys have done there. From that standpoint, it’s been fun to see and we’ve been lucky enough to get to partner with you guys directly and sort of see that shift a little bit. You’ve sat on the SSP side and the DSP side of the world. What do you think that landscape looks like right now? How do you see that changing over the next couple of years? Obviously, Trade Desk was one of the first DSPs to go a little bit more publisher direct. It’s not sort of open to everybody at this point in time, but you guys are leaning in and it makes complete sense. What’s your take on that shift over time?

[00:18:03.280] – Natrian Maxwell

Yeah, so to your point, I’ve been on both sides of the house, and so I often have this Switzerland approach to being like, okay, I don’t ever pick a side SSP, Pepsi or Coke. I’m just like, let me just understand both sides to better understand the challenges they’re dealing with today. I was just thinking about this last week and I was about to write something about it, but then I just wanted to stew about it for a little bit. But what I’ve been noticing lately is that there’s a lot of folks, a lot of content being generated about the demise of the SSP and how they’re dying off, et cetera. I don’t think that’s true. What I do think is happening, though, today is that the conversation of value is at a high point, whereas historically it’s been something like, we’ll get around to it. We’ll tackle that when it becomes a problem. We’ll get to that later. So maybe it was like priority three or four, but now with the macroeconomic situation that we’re in now, I think it’s essentially jumped up to priority one or two for a lot of folks right. And so how that plays out in the market and what that looks like, is this it’s?

[00:19:14.510] – Natrian Maxwell

Where are we spending our dollar? And any amount of that dollar that’s taken out, how much value are we getting in exchange to that? Right? It’s almost the same conversation that’s happening between consumers and mobile apps, which is if I give you my information, my private information, how much value do I get in return for that? Right? And so I think this is the question that’s ultimately playing itself out and it’s playing itself differently across the ecosystem. And so what I mean by that is this is that as long as there’s a fair or equal or more value exchange between the amount of the dollar that’s being taken and the amount of value that’s being replaced with that dollar, we’re good. Right. I think that the challenge is that what we started to find is that a lot of platforms or a lot of companies seem to be extracting more value than they’re adding to that transaction. And I think that’s what we’re starting to see some tailwinds on. And I think that’s where we’re starting to see a little bit of reduction in the entire ecosystem today. Right?

[00:20:24.580] – Kurt Donnell

Yeah. The articles that say the SSPS are dead, there are, I think, different tiers of SSPS. The people that are really adding unique value, whether it’s on the identity and attribution side or bringing some unique demand themselves, I think they will have staying power. I think the folks that have been heavily reliant on being resellers or just buyers through other SSPS and those things, I think it’s going to be a tough slog for them. I think you guys have done a good job on really pushing supply path optimization. I talked to Will about that somewhat regularly on how there’s different classes and quality of inventory and everything. And I think the trade desk has done a very nice job of calling that out and putting it front and center for people to think about, which is good for those of us that usually on the right side of history are really quality inventory, not doing the made for advertising arbitrage stuff. The fact that’s getting called out warms my soul a little bit. It wasn’t really adding a lot of value the entire time and it was taking dollars out of really quality publishers pockets.

[00:21:18.960] – Kurt Donnell

And so I’m excited to see some of the supply path optimization stuff, some of just the calling out of quality of inventory not being what advertisers really want. And I think you guys have done a good job leading that charge and I think that’ll happen at all elements of the chain, like the quality DSPs want to go through quality SSPS to quality supply. Those other paths are not efficient and they’re taking more value out. So it’s been good to see you guys sort of be leaders in that space.

[00:21:42.640] – Natrian Maxwell

Yeah, I agree with you fully there. I think what’s funny and kind of being I always jokingly say, like, I’m old and just grumpy now because I’ve been in it for a bit. But what I think is funny is that when you do come across companies that are operating really clean, great valuable exchanges like Freestar, for example, it’s that they’re not worried. They’re like, this is such a great thing. We’re so excited that a lot of the bad players are going to get rooted out. This is great for us. We can finally maximize our value to our customers, right? So that’s what normally happens. But you already knew they were good players to begin with, so you’re like, okay, yeah, right, we knew that. But then you have the inverse, right? You have the other guys who are like, oh my God, it’s Groundhog’s Day. I think I’m going to start my own digital agency. Things are looking really bad right now. And I giggle because I think the folks and the platforms who’ve been doing it right for such a long period of time, this is an exciting future for them because now you can finally run at full speed and actually do and provide the value that you’ve been doing for such a long period of time.

[00:22:48.020] – Natrian Maxwell

But now you have less noise in the macro that will distill that impact. Down. So very excited for folks who are creating that value within the ecosystem today.

[00:23:00.790] – Kurt Donnell

I think it’s one of those things in life where there’s always a buck to be made somehow, but you got to lay your head on the pillow at night and be proud of what you’re doing and be able to look yourself in the mirror a little bit. And I guess we’ve always tried to do that. Not everybody’s perfect, and we have our moments where we slip up from time to time. But I think if you do that, more times than not, the tough times aren’t quite as tough. People that are living on the margins probably going to hurt a little bit for sure. You made a random comment a little bit about social and that opening up. I’m hearing just more chatter about the advertising world, maybe getting the advertiser side of the world, getting a little more interested in the open web. Again, obviously social, social all the time. We’ve seen some of the earnings reports and everything is coming out of the Facebook of the world and Twitters of the world. I think those can be a little bit misleading because TikTok is kind of eating their lunch. So I think that maybe just reallocating some of the social dollars around.

[00:23:51.690] – Kurt Donnell

But obviously the digital market is still growing. What’s your take on that? Are you guys getting any flavor at all from the buy side? That the open web is getting to feel better and maybe it goes back to cleaning up the supply path a little bit or some of the supply, but I don’t know. Any thoughts on that?

[00:24:05.490] – Natrian Maxwell

Yeah, sure. The way that I sort of think about this is that a long time ago, when I started really the metric that a lot of decisioning planning, forecasting, and measurement was done was just based on Nielsen data. That was truly the way that we operated. Right. And when agencies and brands used to reach out to us, it was sort of that Mad Men era where it was, hey, I’m running this campaign. Where do you guys think I should run? Right? And I would have my Don Draper moment, and I’d be like, you know what? Sounds really cool and custom for you? I would take these sets of supply and let’s run there for you. And they’d be like, oh, great ideas. Oh, brilliant.

[00:24:51.700] – Kurt Donnell


[00:24:51.890] – Natrian Maxwell

And I’m like thank you. So that was like the mathematic era, right? And then what happened is that we started going into more of like the walled gardens. The Facebook who could do one to one targeting at mass scale. And they were wielding a lot of power around and they were doing a lot of things, and they were capturing a lot of that budget. And it was working really well for brands and agencies for quite a long period of time. But then what started happening, though, is a consumer started getting really concerned about how their privacy was being used, where it was being used, and we started seeing that play out in parallel. What we started also seeing is that the methodologies that a lot of the social platforms were using would vary or change, but they would lose trust with some of the brands and agencies. And so then brands and agencies started saying, hey, I don’t know if I can just solely rely on your data for measurement and how we’re performing. So what that did was it created sort of this environment now where they’re using deterministic data and probabilistic data and sort of checking each other’s homework to see if it’s really playing out right.

[00:26:04.470] – Natrian Maxwell

So that started to transition. And then I think what we started to move into now is the MathMan era, which is we started to see a lot of agencies and brands start to bring in a lot more data scientists and a lot more data teams internally to understand how they can take control of their first party data. Right? And so now that we have that, what I think is we’re starting to see now is a lot of these people saying, well, actually, when I look at the open web, I’m noticing that our performance data, our measurement data. The actual outcomes of our campaigns are either just as good as what we were getting during that deterministic era or even better now, because of the reach and scale and the interoperability that we have within the open ecosystem. Right? And so now, if I’m a large brand, I still find value in social platforms, but. How I use them has changed significantly since changing into this MathMan era. And I think what they’re trying to do now is say, okay, we’re very comfortable with how we use our first-party data. We’re very comfortable in terms of how we’re buying now.

[00:27:13.500] – Natrian Maxwell

What we’d like to do is expand our visibility into these closed ecosystems and be able to use these insights that we’re learning in the open web there as well. So now they’re asking, how do we open up those walled gardens so that we can ultimately use our data more holistically and understand more of the ecosystem together so that we can drive value across all of our marketing campaigns? And I think that’s sort of where we’re at currently, and that’s the trend now. And so I’m very excited because it almost feels like these conversations are starting to happen at the social level where they’re trying to understand, okay, how do I give my strategic buyers more access, more visibility, more measurement? And I think that’s sort of where we’re at at this moment in time.

[00:27:56.740] – Kurt Donnell

I love that. Did you coin the mathmen term? Can I steal that? Who do I need to attribute that to when I inevitably steal it?

[00:28:05.100] – Natrian Maxwell

Yeah, take it. I don’t know, I just felt like that’s what’s happened now. Like, everyone’s like a data analyst these days. So I’ve just sort of been comparing Math Men and Mad Men.

[00:28:14.190] – Kurt Donnell

I do love that, though. We jokingly touched on at the beginning the billions of signals that we see on a daily, weekly, monthly basis and being able to use that. It’s been, I guess, the reason why I’ve leaned into the programmatic side of the world for, I guess, almost a decade now, is we’re going to do better with math than we are just sort of I want to do this splashy campaign and put it on this, that or the other thing. And the amount of direct dollars I still get seen thrown around kind of blows my mind when it’s tough to measure your row ads on that at certain times and everything. And sure, you can go look at this, and I did this giant flashy thing or this event or whatever that is, but there’s math that will show what works and what doesn’t work. And the best way to test that is programmatic advertising because you can turn it on and off and test and learn and iterate so I love the space, and obviously you do. You’ve been doing it for a long time. So I will wind things down here with the question I ask everyone, which is, what is some advice current day Natrian would give a younger version of himself?

[00:29:12.670] – Natrian Maxwell

And is this specific to programmatic or just in general?

[00:29:16.020] – Kurt Donnell

No, this is life.

[00:29:16.850] – Natrian Maxwell

This is life.

[00:29:17.330] – Kurt Donnell

We wrap up every episode with this. We try to give people a little chance to find some nuggets to live by here.

[00:29:24.040] – Natrian Maxwell

What do you got if there was one thing I would tell my younger self, aside from take care of your hair, it would probably be something like this. I think that one mistake that we often have. And keep in mind, I have a 19 year old and a 16 year old, and so I’m like right at that point now where I have to teach them how to be adults. And what I tell them and what I would have told my younger self is I think we do it wrong in America in that we always tell people like, find your passion and then go do that. And I often think that was probably bad advice. And here’s why is that. Oftentimes when you’re 19 or 20 or 21, you don’t even know what you’re passionate about. And the reason is because you haven’t even done enough things to know what you’re not passionate about yet. And I would say as I look over my career in programmatic in general, 16 years later, I didn’t get passionate about programmatic until about two years ago. And that was because I’ve done it so long now that you have to develop a certain skill set or a master of a certain skill set before you can truly start to look at something and say like, I am passionate about this because I am now getting back a certain amount of input from this thing.

[00:30:55.730] – Natrian Maxwell

So you almost have to do something for a really long time, even though you’re not passionate about it, before it then becomes a passion, which then you can do something you’re passionate about. So if you chase a passion too early on and you’re not good at it, it’s not going to be something that you want to continue doing. For me, it’s golf. Like, I was terrible at it, but I was like, can I be passionate at golf? No, it’ll destroy you. Right. You have to do it for a long period of time before it then becomes your passion. So the advice sorry, that was long winded. But what I would say the advice is just do a lot of things. Do a lot of things and try to find what you’re not passionate about and that will ultimately help you find something that you are passionate about later. So that would probably be the advice I would have given myself.

[00:31:46.550] – Kurt Donnell

I think that is tremendous advice. And you mentioned the word curiosity earlier, and I talk to our team about that all the time. Whenever you’ve got curiosity, you’re going to be successful because you’ll go pull on the random strings and then you will find that thing that leads you down the path to the thing that is your passion eventually. But you won’t know that. You can’t know that until you try such good advice. I will agree that golf will drive you. Absolutely. But once you get hooked, man, is it a passion.

[00:32:13.070] – Natrian Maxwell

Awesome. I love it. You’re giving me hope here because it is terrible out there right now.

[00:32:18.700] – Kurt Donnell

Thanks for the hope. It is the most infuriating and addicting thing on this planet. Malcolm Gladwell is a good podcast about that very thing. Awesome man. Well, hey, I appreciate your time, as always, and the partnership. It’s been so fun to see you be so successful everywhere you’ve been and always. Cheers on the sideline, my man. Thanks so much, appreciate the time today.

[00:32:39.650] – Natrian Maxwell

Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate everything and we’ll talk here soon.

[00:32:47.250] – Kurt Donnell

Thank you again to our special guest Natrin for taking the time to chat with us. And thank you to our listeners for tuning in. If you have a spare moment, please check us out on Google Play itunes or your listening platform of choice. Please leave us a review and subscribe to make sure you never miss an episode. For feedback or suggestions for guests, you can reach us at podcast@freestar.com. Special thanks to Matt Hanline for music and to Caroline Romano for helping with editing, production and making sure people know this podcast exists. Until next time.